KP ministers express concerns over presence of Taliban in different areas of province
PESHAWAR: The inside story of a Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet meeting has come to light after KP ministers expressed concerns over the presence of Taliban in different areas of the province and demanded that the provincial cabinet be taken into confidence on negotiations with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
Some ministers got emotional on the issue and said that the whole matter was related to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but the provincial government was not taken into confidence over talks with the TTP. The ministers alleged that some circles said that an agreement had been reached with the Taliban, but the provincial government was being kept in the dark. Special Assistant to Chief Minister Muhammad Ali Saif meanwhile supported negotiations with the TTP.
The meeting of the provincial cabinet was held on Tuesday at the Civil Secretariat, Peshawar, and Chief Minister Mahmood Khan chaired it. KP Minister for Food and Sports Atif Khan expressed concerns over the activities of armed fighters of the banned TTP in various areas of KP, including Swat. He said it was an important matter and it was necessary to keep aside other points on the agenda of the meeting and discuss the TTP issue. “If there is peace, the dream of development and prosperity will be realised, otherwise whatever development projects the government makes or whatever resources are spent on these projects will go in vain,” he said, adding that the cabinet should be informed how the armed men of banned TTP not only crossed the border into Pakistan from Afghanistan but also reached Swat after a long journey.
He proposed that the secretaries and officials of other departments present in the meeting should leave so that the chief secretary, the inspector general of police and other relevant authorities could brief the cabinet. He slammed the abduction of security personnel by militants and the subsequent audios and videos that surfaced. Other ministers also supported him and took the stand that negotiations had been going on with the TTP for some time, about which some circles were even saying that behind the curtain all the matters had been settled. They said the matter was related to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but the provincial government had been neither informed about its details nor it had been taken into confidence.
IGP Moazzam Jah Ansari briefed the cabinet on the number and activities of TTP fighters in the Matta area of District Swat and said police and locals could not get information about the arrival of TTP fighters from across the border in time, but he clarified that the TTP people did not enter Swat through roads but through mountains.
However, the cabinet members were surprised when Muhammad Ali Saif defended the negotiations with the TTP and dismissed the ministers’ reservations. Saif is a key member of the Jirga negotiating with the banned TTP and has held several rounds of talks with the TTP leaders in Kabul, Afghanistan. He, for the first time, briefed the cabinet members on the talks with the TTP and said that the incidents of Swat were of individual nature.
He said there were some people who did not want peace and if these individual incidents were given importance, it would encourage these people and that would be detrimental to the peace talks. “I spoke to the leaders of the outlawed TTP about this on Tuesday and this is their stand,” he told the cabinet.